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What Every Record Collector Should Know

If you love vinyl, it’s likely you enjoy those rare finds. You know how it is when you’re at a second-hand shop or a garage sale and all of a sudden you see a rare album priced for just $2. You quickly grab the album, disburse the money and high tail it out of there before the seller knows what they’re missing.

Some vinyl collectors love this feeling so much, they take it to the next level by becoming an album collector.

Vinyl makes a great medium for collectors. As opposed to CD’s and digital, it is a tangible format that may come with items like posters and foldouts that are exclusive to vinyl. Vinyl also has a sense of nostalgia and a terrific sound quality that so many people love.

Some people collect vinyl for profit while other people enjoy having the albums to hold and listen to and admire at their leisure. Either way collecting can be a very rewarding experience.

If you are thinking of getting into vinyl collecting, you should do some research in advance. It’s important to find out how much an album is worth and how you can find the most valuable ones.

Looking for this kind of information? You’re in luck. This article will provide you with all the tips you’ll need.

How Do I Know What An Album is Worth?

There are several factors that come into play when determining the value of a record. These are as follows.

  • The Artist: The more popular the artist is, the more the record is likely to be worth.
  • Rarity: Have an album with a banned cover? An original release? Does it have features, like a poster that was since discontinued? This means it is a rare album that may be worth a lot of money.
  • Age: An older album may be worth more than a newer one but the popularity of the artist and the rarity are bigger deciding factors.
  • Condition: The better the condition of the record the more it will be worth. If it sealed, even better, but a sealed record is one you can’t listen to…so what fun is that? Condition will be considered in whether the record is scratched or not as well as whether the cover or any other materials are worn.
  • Signed Copy: If you’re lucky enough to have an album signed by the artist that recorded it, it could be worth a lot of money. However, you will have to prove that it’s actually their signature you have on the album. A certificate of authenticity or a picture of them signing it will be helpful.
  • Label Used: When we talk about the label, we’re not actually talking about the record label that the record was released on, we’re talking about the type of label used on the actual vinyl. Over time, labels have changed in the materials and formats used. If you have a vintage label on your album, you may be in luck.
  • Format: Over the years, records have been pressed in a variety of formats. They were sold in mono formats until 1957. Between 1957 and 1968, they were available in mono and stereo formats. In the mid-70’s some records were made with 4-channel quadrophonic sound. These quadrophonic records are extremely rare and are worth more than other formats.

How Do I Know What My Record is Worth?

Now you know what could make a record worth more, but how do you know what to charge for your record? The answer is research.

Look around to see what the same record in similar condition is going for. Checking record stores and record collector forums will also help you determine the value.

Here are some tried and true methods you will want to use.

Online Methods

  • eBay: Look at eBay listings to see what your record is going for. While looking at the listings for items that are selling will be helpful, you will be better off going with the ‘just sold’ category. This way you will be able to determine what people are actually paying for the vinyl.
  • Popsike: Popsike makes your eBay search easier. It tracks eBay sales so you can find the most valuable records off all time, the past year and the past month.
  • Music Stack: Music Stack lets you enter information on any record and it gives you historical pricing data.
  • Value Your Music: This site gives you the current price of vinyl records based on recent auction sales.
  • Music Price Guide: This resource also lists auction results so you can price your records accordingly.
  • Discogs: Discogs provides valuable information including sales price statistics, sold date, low, median and high prices. (We’ll have more info on Discogs later on in the article).

Physical Price Guides

You could also buy a physical price guide that tells you what records are worth. This may seem a bit old-fashioned but it can help you out if you are in a store and want to know whether or not you should buy an album.

There are some apps that provide similar information and they can be useful in a situation like this but you never know when you won’t have an internet connection.

But ultimately, a record is worth what people will pay for it. Don’t be surprised if you list your record at a price you think is fair and you get no takers.

If this occurs, you will have to decide whether to lower the price, keep the listing active and hope someone eventually takes the bait or hold on to the record and relist it at a future time.

While record prices tend to go up, you never know when the bubble will burst. For instance, if an artist dies, the value of the vinyl may go up for a couple of years and then go down again.

How Do I Find Rare Records?

If you are looking to build up your record collection, here are some of the best places to find rarities.

  • Flea Markets: You may spend a good amount of time digging through bins at a flea market, but you never know when you might find a diamond in the rough. Rural flea markets are more likely to carry great albums than urban areas.
  • Estate Sales/Garage Sales: Browsing these types of yard sales could pay off big time. You may even be able to strike a deal to buy multiple albums at a low price.
  • Record Fairs: Record fairs are kind of like flea markets only they are for selling records only. While it will be easy to find collectibles at a fair, the sellers are more price wary so you won’t get as many deals….but you never know what you’ll be able to work out!
  • Craigslist: There are a few online sites that sell vinyl but the sellers on Craigslist are more likely to be advertising an estate sale sort of deal where they are not as aware of the value of what they’re selling.
  • Work at a Record Store: It may not be easy to land a job at a record store, but if you do, you might hit the jackpot when it comes to getting your share of collectible records. When customers come in and sell valuable vinyl and you will have the first chance to buy them at discounted prices.

Discogs

Discogs is a great resource for finding rare records with less hassle. This online music data base and marketplace has tools that help you find records from trusted dealers.

You can also add the records you want to your Discog Wantlist. The site will send you emails when the records are available on their site. It also flags albums to let you know if they are good deals or rare finds.

Another nice thing about Discogs is, it works with an app called Vinyl Price. Vinyl Price will give you all the pricing info you need when you’re out and about looking for albums to buy.

How to Sell Records

It should come as no surprise that the places you are most likely to find used records are also the best for selling records. When selling your records, here are a few things to be aware of.

Selling at a Record Store: The easiest way to sell a record is to go to a record store. Rather than wait for someone who might be interested to make an offer or a bid, you know you’re going to get a yes or no answer. However, record stores may not offer you the full value of the album. This is because they are also dealing with overhead expenses that eat into your profit.

And while you would hope you are dealing with someone that’s honest, you never know when a record store owner will try to lowball you on the price. Go into the store knowing what your album is worth. If they offer you something that’s too low, see if you can bargain them up. If they pay you $1 for your album, it’s likely they will pay you $10.

Selling Online: Selling online will get you more money, but you have to consider a few variables.

First of all, if this is your first time selling, don’t be surprised if you don’t get a bite. Buyers are looking for sellers with good reputations and to them, no reputation means bad reputation.

However, if you’re item is hot enough, it probably will sell. After all, everyone starts somewhere.

When listing the album, take plenty of pictures and show any damage on the album or cover. If you aren’t completely transparent about what you are selling, it will result in a return and it could damage your reputation as a seller.

Also, don’t be surprised if you don’t get the price you were expecting for your album. If you have Michael Jackson’s Bad or Thriller, for instance, you may think you’ll get a lot of money because it’s a popular recording from an artist who is deceased.

However, the truth is, there are so many pressings of these albums, and so many people have them, you may not get an offer that’s even close to what you had hoped.

Beatles albums are also quite common so you may not get much for them if you try to sell.

What Records are Worth a Lot of Money?

While there are several records out there that are worth a lot of money, there are a few that are up there with the most valuable of the most valuable. Here are some you will definitely want to grab if you’re lucky enough to find them at a reasonable price.

Elvis Presley Sun Records Release

Presley’s single “My Happiness” was released on Sun Records. It’s Elvis Presley’s first known recording and a one-off pressing. Jack White bought the album at an auction for $300,000 USD and had it professionally reproduced making enough copies for everyone to buy. These reproduced albums will not be worth as much as the original but they still may be fun to own.

The Quarrymen

Before John Lennon and Paul McCartney were in The Beatles, they were in a band called the Quarrymen. Every vinyl recording of the band will be worth a lot of money, but their single of “That’ll Be the Day” b/w “In Spite of Anger” is worth $250,000 USD. McCartney owns the original but he made 50 reproduced copies in the 80’s. Each of them is worth $10,000 to $30,000 USD.

Long Cleve Reed & Little Harvey Hill

The names of these artists may not be well known today, but they are responsible for making one of the most valuable vinyl recordings out there. Their single, “Original Stack O Lee Blues” was the first 78 to be recorded with microphones, amplified with vacuum tubes and cut to vinyl. It’s worth around $50,000 USD.

Beach Boys Ten Little Indians

This 7” 45 RPM album is currently worth about $150 USD but it’s expected to rise in value.

Aretha Franklin Take a Look

The stereo version of this album was released in 1967. Mint condition versions are going for around $750 USD. but you can get used ones on eBay for as little as $10.

The Doors Morrison Hotel

First pressings of this album can go for as much as $1100 USD. Ones that are worth more will have gold and tan labels as opposed to the reddish brown that was on later releases.

Buddy Holly That’ll Be the Day

Buddy Holly’s” That’ll Be the Day” originally released on Decca Records in 1958. A mint condition version could get you up to $1500 USD. If the vinyl is not in good shape, you could sell it for anywhere from $35 to $200 USD.

Miles Davis- Kind of Blue

Mint copies of first pressings of “Kind of Blue” can be worth as much as $1500 USD. The recording was originally released on blue vinyl with a six-eye label. Later on, the format switched to a two-eye label making the original pressings that much more valuable.

Tom Petty- Wildflowers

Mint condition, unopened versions of Wildflowers have gone for as much as $2000 USD. If you have an opened copy that is in mint condition, you may get $300 to $1100 for the vinyl. Prices may be going up due to the singer’s death.

Curtis Fuller- The Opener

Curtis Fuller’s “The Opener” has gone for as much as $3100 in mint condition. Even those with minimal damage may bring in a nice chunk of change.

Nirvana- Bleach

Nirvana may be best known for their 1990’s hit album “Nevermind” but they actually had an album that proceeded that one called “Bleach”. Bleach came out in 1989 and it is available in red and white vinyl. If you have a copy in mint condition, you may be able to sell it for an impressive price.

Del Shannon – Runaway

This 1961 album release was said to have been pressed only 80 times. Its extreme rarity means it’s worth a good amount of money. Copies have gone for as much as $2000.

How Do I Know if an Album Will Be Worth a Lot of Money?

If you are wondering whether new vinyl will be worth money, try investing in albums that are limited edition. Also, note that vinyl from the 90’s may be worth a lot of money because there wasn’t much vinyl coming out around that time.

Care for Your Vinyl

It goes without saying that you should care for your vinyl, especially if you are a collector. The better shape it’s in, the more it will be worth. Need tips of caring for your Vinyl? Your friends at Funky Moose have you covered. Check out our article on How to Care for Your Vinyl Records at this link.

Collecting records is a rewarding and potentially lucrative hobby. The tips in this article will help you buy and sell vinyl so you can start on a great collection. What rarities do you have in your bins?

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